True story: I’m a bad bride. Earlier this year, my wonderful, amazing, incredible boyfriend proposed, and after all of the giddy excitement of telling our families and friends the delightful news, it started to dawn on me that I have to actually plan a wedding.
And while I’m deeply excited about being married to this marvelous man, the thought of organizing an appropriately meaningful event is overwhelming, to put it mildly. I’m finally taking baby steps toward planning it—watch this space for more details—and while I haven’t even considered my wedding dress situation yet, I have found myself thinking about what to wear to all of the parties leading up to the actual ceremony.
Over the past few months, I’ve collected a slew of celebrity outfit-inspiration photos for all kinds of engagement events, a handful of which I’m happy to share with you today. Two things to keep in mind: I was specifically on the lookout for options that are appropriate for brides in their 30s, because a.) that’s me! and b.) it feels like most stories—this is just my unscientific opinion, mind you—about bridal stuff are created for younger women.
Hopefully, sharing these finds will justify all of the time I’ve spent mulling over outfit options instead of working on our invitations (which would require a date and a location, neither of which has been solidified!), and my fingers are crossed that it might help some other affianced individuals out there too. But don’t get it twisted; these looks will work for anyone who likes an all-white outfit, so feel free to browse and/or buy as you see fit!
Scroll down for sophisticated celebratory outfits for grown-up brides.
One of my favorite looks as of late, which also happens to be engagement-party appropriate, is a white off-the-shoulder Ellery dress with deconstructed bell sleeves, as seen on Knowles. Again, this sort of shoulder-baring neckline is incredibly flattering, as is the above-the-ankle hemline, which hits at the slimmest part of the calf. While the overall effect is relatively demure, the front-slit skirt gives the dress some adult edge in all the right ways. In short, everything about this look is modern, majorly chic, and completely of-the-moment, right down to the gold Gucci crossover-strap mules.
On Jessica Biel: Self-Portrait dress; Christian Louboutin So Kate 120mm Heels ($695); Irene Neuwirth earrings.
Bohemian looks are having a moment right now, and even if you’re not ready to commit to that trend when you’re walking down the aisle, it could be a lovely look for a more casual engagement party, as evidenced by Jessica Biel. The bare shoulders are super flattering, and I like the fact that the dress has a long, partially diaphanous skirt.
On Victoria Beckham: Victoria Beckham suit.
Just because bridal trends tend to run on the frilly side of things doesn’t mean you have to embrace that look. Case in point: Beckham’s sharp white tux. The perfectly hemmed pants show off sharp, sophisticated shoes while the menswear-inspired jacket looks cool and crisp.
I’ll be frank: While I appreciate a jumpsuit, I’d rarely recommend one for an engagement party. But there was something about this clean, slightly sporty style from Narciso Rodriguez that changed my perspective. Especially when paired with a rose-gold robe coat—which might be the perfect color for spring outerwear—the result is feminine without being fussy. In other words, perfect party attire!
On Jessica Alba: IRO jacket; Brock Collection dress; Lee Savage Infinite Space Box Clutch ($1995), available in Rose Gold.
White lace dresses are inherently feminine, but you can make it a bit more balanced and modern looking by taking a page from Jessica Alba and balancing it with a moto jacket in a lighter hue. PS: I really like the tea-length hemline, which is just short enough to show off your shoes.
Just because you’re getting married doesn’t mean you are required to look like a cupcake. Case in point: this sophisticated strapless dress with delightfully clean lines.
Bold bell sleeves are having a huge moment in fashion right now, so why not bring the runway to life with this white-but-not-uptight dress from Milly?
An investment, to be sure, but if you’re looking for a beyond-chic all-white outfit, Proenza Schouler can’t be beat.
For more casual beach or garden events, a gauzy cold-shoulder dress is the perfect pick, especially when worn with simple lace-up sandals.
I’m kind of obsessed with Stuart Weitzman’s new bridal line, especially the Nearly Nude style, which is a smart choice for outdoor events (thanks to that block heel, you’ll never sink into the grass) and will work with a multitude of looks.
The jersey-and-crepe fabric combination makes this standout piece especially comfortable.
I’m obsessed with Self-Portait in general, and this dress in particular is giving me major garden party (or even bridal shower) vibes.
Another great coat option is a soft, unstructured robe coat or trench draped over your shoulders.
One way to ensure that a white dress looks modern is to pick a style that involves a tiny pop of color, like this tassel-belt dress.
Modern yet feminine—a lovely combination, if you ask me.
When it comes to outerwear options, you can still wear your go-to moto jacket; just try it in a lighter hue like gray or blush.
Ideal for the directional bride, this knee-length dress is romantic (the décolletage-revealing neckline) and intriguing (the full sleeves).
If you’re looking for something easy and sleek, this collarbone-baring sweaterdress might be up your alley.
Like everyone else, I’m a huge fan of all things Aquazzura, and I have my eye on these lace-up flats.
If you’d prefer a trouser option for your engagement events instead of a dress or skirt, this elegant jumpsuit might be calling your name.